Last year, Pope Francis announced the theme of the World Youth Day diocesan conferences that would take place around the world in 2020: “Young man, I say to you, arise.” The passage comes from the seventh chapter of Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus raised the son of a widow from the dead.
Bishop Luers High School, Fort Wayne, will host the World Youth Day conference in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Teenagers from the 14 counties will gather there Feb. 21-23.
Jennifer Litchfield, a graduate of Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne, has been involved in youth ministry for many years and emceed several past World Youth Day diocesan gatherings.
This year, however, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Nathaniel Binversie and others will lead those attending in worship, conversation and reflection.
Binversie is the director of mission for Exodus Inc., the author of “Exodus 90 Spiritual Exercise,” and chief editor for “Day 91.”
Before he worked for Exodus he worked in collegiate ministry, including three years with Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Though he has seen the Lord call him to use his brain in fantastic ways, he said, he is certain that it is his knees that are most valuable to both his family and to mission.
A praise and worship group, The Scally Brothers, who performed in November at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, will lead those attending in songs of praise and worship.
Diocesan seminarians studying at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, Indianapolis, will play a game of “students vs. seminarians” basketball during recreation time Saturday afternoon. The seminarians also will assist in leading the Liturgy of the Hours throughout the weekend.
On Friday evening, Father Mark Gurtner, Father Benjamin Muhlenkamp and Father Andrew Curry will conduct a healing service that includes an opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation.
Saturday evening, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades will address retreat participants. Adoration of the Eucharist will follow.
Youth Ministry Director John Pratt said that thanks to the hard work of parish youth ministers and the staff of Bishop Luers, sizable attendance is expected at the conference. “We’ve already nearly reached the number of registrations we had in 2019,” Pratt commented in December.
He added that a team of about 10 high school youths who are members of the Diocesan Youth Leadership team are assisting with retreat planning, “ensuring that it’s relevant for our young people and that details keep running smoothly throughout the weekend.”
Pratt said teens should attend the event because it’s a chance to celebrate World Youth Day with Bishop Rhoades. “It’s a unique opportunity to let our shepherd teach and lead us in our journey of faith.” The weekend also will provide a kind of steppingstone, he said, to preparing for the fruits of the next international World Youth Day. That international event will happen in the country of Portugal in 2022.
The weekend will conclude Sunday morning with a 10 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Rhoades, which family and friends are welcome to attend.
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